Special Education Acronyms

Making Sense of IEP Alphabet Soup

Teacher with parent and child
Digital Vision/Getty Images

Have you been wondering what all those acronyms mean on your child's IEP? Here's a quick guide to some of the most common special education abbreviations.

ABA: Applied Behavior Analysis

A system of treatment based on behaviorist theories in which desired behaviors can be taught through a system of rewards and consequences

APE: Adapted Physical Education

The law requires that physical education is provided for children with disabilities.

APE modifies an activity so it is as appropriate for the person with a disability as it is for a person without a disability.

ASL: American Sign Language

A non-verbal manual language used by people who are deaf

BIP: Behavior Intervention Plan 

This plan takes the observations made in a Functional Behavioral Assessment and turns them into a concrete plan of action for managing a student's behavior. It may include ways to prevent the behavior, positive reinforcements, avoiding reinforcing bad behavior, and supports needed by the student.

ESL: English as a Second Language

A class taught to introduce a student to the English language when they do not yet speak it

ESY: Extended School Year

This term is used to describe services required to maintain the skills a student with a disability has identified in their Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 accommodation plan between school years.

FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, children with disabilities are guaranteed regular or special education and related aids and services to meet their individual needs the same as for other students.

FBA: Functional Behavioral Assessment

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools are required to perform this assessment when dealing with challenging behavior in students with special needs. It is performed by a behavioral specialist and used to develop the Behavior Intervention Plan.

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

This federal law outlines rights and regulations for students with disabilities in the United States who require special education.  It requires that children with disabilities be given the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.

IEE: Independent Educational Evaluation

An evaluation of a child for the purposes of determining a special education program that is performed by personnel outside of the school system

IEP: Individualized Education Plan

A plan that determines your a child's program, services, and accommodations in special education.

LRE: Least Restrictive Environment

The IDEA requires children with special needs be educated in an environment that has few restrictions, including full inclusion in regular classrooms as appropriate.

NCLB: No Child Left Behind

Law enacted in 2002 which defined academic standards and accountability

OT: Occupational Therapy

Therapy to work on fine motor skills and reaching developmental milestones

PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System

An alternative and augmentative communication system using pictures. It is especially used for children with autism spectrum disorders.

It begins with exchanging a single picture as a request and builds to creating sentences.

PLP: Present Level of Performance

A section of a child's IEP that details how she is doing academically at the moment

PT: Physical Therapy

Therapy to develop gross motor skills

PWN: Prior Written Notice

A notation that a written notice was sent about an issue

SLP: Speech-Language Pathologist

A professional who works on language skills

504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act

This portion of the law specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including elementary, secondary or post-secondary schooling.

Continue Reading